The Good: Funny, Actual character development, Decent performances, Good self-referential qualities.
The Bad: I could always use more DVD bonus features, A few episodes that do not replay as well.
The Basics: In its second season, Happy Endings builds very well upon the characters it established in the first season, making it a wonderful DVD release!
There are few shows these days that my wife and I stop everything for each week and just sit and watch. Happy Endings is one of them. Happy Endings had an ambitious and very funny first season (reviewed here!) and we approached the second season with a real sense of enthusiasm. In fact, my wife and I were surprised that Damon Wayans Jr. even appeared in the pilot of New Girl; Happy Endings is such a strong show, how could it go off the air prematurely?! The second season of Happy Endings, illustrated that the show has staying power. How much? So much that even recurring performances by Megan Mullally – arguably the most overrated, obnoxious, one-note actress to ruin everything she touches – cannot shake my enjoyment in the season!
In the second season of Happy Endings, the show builds on its Friends-style accessibility where six people hang out and get into potentially problematic situations, while growing closer. With more references and in-jokes, Happy Endings seems to realize it is becoming a phenomenon. As a result, the second season presents fourth-wall breaking comments like Penny addressing her use of uh-mah-zing and the recurring presence of Derrick, whom Max once used to illustrate to Penny how irksome her stereotype of gay actually was.
The second season finds Jane and Brad’s marriage going strong, Alex actually moving on to date more and Penny trying to rally for a good year as her Year Of Penny begins. Steak Me Home Tonight continues to offer Dave opportunities for growth and Max actually lands himself a functional relationship . . . which upsets him more than he thought possible. The plots are pretty standard, like Jane and Brad faking an annual fight when a real conflict between them breaks out and Alex trying to break Dave of his interest in v-neck t-shirts. The comedic power of Happy Endings in its second season comes from witty dialogue and hilarious cutaway gags.
Like most great television shows – even sitcoms – Happy Endings is all about the characters in the second season. The primary characters continue to be:
Penny Hartz – Determined to have a good year where she stops dating losers and making the same mistakes, Penny buys a condo, takes in Alex and confronts her mother about her perpetual optimism. She exhibits her parental instincts when helping Max babysit and dates Dave’s psychologist. She also dates a guy whom she is determined not to change for nor change into what she wants. She develops some genuine feelings for Dave, well beyond the sex dreams of him that come when she drinks his signature drink,
Max Blum – He plods along doing whatever he can for money and living with Dave until he sees just how easily he has cast aside potential partners. When one of his ex’s comes back into his life on Valentine’s Day, Max tries to make a genuine change. His limo business continues running, though he gets a lot of help from his friends to stay afloat,
Dave Rose – Dating pretty steadily now, he goes into therapy and begins to reform a genuine friendship with Alex. When they accidentally sleep together, he is convinced by her that it did not actually happen and he works hard to get a liquor license for Steak Me Home Tonight. Jealous of Max’s new boyfriend, he picks up a motorcycle . . . with disastrous results,
Alex Kerkovich – Almost entirely over Dave now, she moves in with Penny and begins seriously dating once again. She faces off with the new wave of popular girls when her store becomes a popular hangout and the sales of baby-t’s explode. She is mistaken for a drag queen at Halloween, is treated like a queen by a new suitor whom Penny rejected, and takes in a racist parrot. She gives up alcohol and shows Dave how bullies work,
Jane Kerkovich-Williams – Still happily married to Brad, she uses her sorority sister’s failure to come for a visit as an excuse to have a home spa experience. She and Brad have a real fight which marks the beginning of Spring and she shows Alex how to brainwash Dave by illustrating her technique on Brad. She stops being uptight when she learns how to “sleep on” an idea,
and Brad Williams – Happily married to Jane, he nevertheless lies to her about going away on business as an excuse to stay in Chicago and relax in a hotel on his own. He and Alex bond over romantic comedies and he experiences his first cavity, which knocks him out for Valentine’s Day. Befriending the mailman with Dave leads to an awkward situation.
On the acting front, Happy Endings continues strong in its second season. While guest stars like Michael McKean, Ed Begley Jr., and Megan Mullally pop up, Happy Endings is still dominated by the six stars of the show. Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Damon Wayans Jr. and Casey Wilson all have great chemistry with one another and this season, they seem more comfortable in their roles.
Funny, with wonderful characters and great dialogue/situations, Happy Endings Season Two is well worth picking up!
For other works with Damon Wayans Jr., be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Other Guys
For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the shows and seasons I have reviewed!
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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